Saturday 25 January 2020

Southampton too honest, claims Hughes

Southampton's Shane Long. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Action Images via Reuters
Southampton's Shane Long. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Action Images via Reuters

Sam Dean

Mark Hughes said his Southampton players were "too honest" as they allowed Chelsea to score three goals in eight minutes in a humiliating collapse that has left them five points adrift of Premier League safety.

Hughes lamented his side's inability to stem the flow after Chelsea scored their first goal with just 20 minutes left in the 3-2 defeat and warned he has learnt which of his players are "not willing to put their bodies on the line".

During the 10-minute spell from the 70th minute to the 80th minute, in which Chelsea's Olivier Giroud scored either side of an Eden Hazard equaliser, Southampton completed just eight passes.

"It was difficult," Hughes said. "It was that case of thinking 'Come on, guys - you need to understand what is happening here'.

"Sometimes you have to have the ability, some would say it's a skill, to knock people over in the right areas of the field. The top teams do it - Manchester City do it, Chelsea do it - just to be able to stop the game and give yourself time to regroup. We are probably a little bit too honest in that regard."

Asked if Southampton have the leaders capable of providing this cynical edge, Hughes added: "I am starting to learn what leaders and what kind of leadership group I have got within the club. I have got good characters, I have got strong characters. Maybe the starting line-up needs more of those.

"I am getting to understand who are the guys that are going to help us and who are not willing to put their bodies on the line."

Southampton, who scored through Dusan Tadic and Jan Bednarek, now face Leicester on Thursday before an FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea on Sunday.

They may encounter Giroud from the start after the Frenchman changed the game following his arrival from the bench, in place of the disappointing Alvaro Morata. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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